Falkner or Salinger?

The moment is frozen in time, haunting me all of these days. A binary choice. A fork in our timelines. A loss of everything I understood to be important in life. An end.

I’d like to take this scene and do it with cinematic style. Maybe David Lynch style. Tick tick tick, seconds announcing themselves on the cheap wall clock. Battery running low. It was five minutes behind the GMT sync on my cell phone. Couples therapy.

She said something unexpected. Normally it was about me, my disappointing her, and my depression, unemployment, sexual appetite, or something, anything, to prevent us from talking about the heart of the problem. I would need to go back and find the journal I was keeping at the time. It might have been lost in the storage unit fire with so much of my old life. She spoke some memorable and epic lines, perhaps a wide shot, with bright colors, flat lighting, and a spark of magic. Tragic is more the mood I’m going for, but I have a harder time with anger than many people.

“Wait,” I said. I might have missed the exact words, but the information accidentally revealed in her complaint was this: it was the end of the world as we know it, to paraphrase REM. There was a beat of silence. I looked at the therapist for assurance. Rich looked at his wife. I spoke. “Have you been to see an attorney?”

Thunderclap (an erie sad music fades in). Her eyes widen. “I was just gathering information.”

Time stretches from that moment into infinity, symbolized by a long endless hallway in a mostly abandoned commercial chemistry lab. Red numbered doors streaming by as I am propelled down the hall toward the big glass window at the end of the hall. Eyewash stations with green and white cross symbols. Stacks of unused cubicle walls and desks clustered together in the bones of a previous “open office” experiment. Numbers and arrows pointing toward various hazards.

I looked at Rick, our therapist for a glimmer of hope. Nothing. I looked at the floor. “We’re fucked.”

  • ~ *

The first phone call I made from the car was to Dan, my old men’s therapist and mentor. “I need to see you.”

“I have some time right now if you can come.”

I came unstuck in time.

Freefalling. I sobbed. I ranted. I knew I was going to be on the losing end. Solo. And I knew that my sensitive son was going to take the brunt of my departure from the family unit. He was so joyful. Hopeful. Inclusive.

“I’ll ride with Dad,” he’d announce as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant in a predictably repeatable moment. “Me too,” shouted my daughter. “Then I’ll go with Mom,” he said. “Each parent needs a kid.”

My dad never really looked up from the wreckage of his divorce. He dove downward through a series of bad choices and married another alcoholic. He would be dead in seven years, she would follow him a year later. I was left in the lakehouse with Mom. Poor little rich boy. My brother and two sisters were 6 – 8 – 10 years older than me. Girl – boy – girl. The glass “house of the year” was even published on the cover of the Texas Almanac that year. A successful family, grand house, loss of signal.

[reading back on this ambitious start, I’m thrilled by the inclusion of words and ideas from poetry and short stories creeping in. Language is a virus. Language is a love story. Language is the electrical system of our mind. Language is where I find solace, comprehension. Language connections between my mind and my pen on paper leaving remnants of time, image, letters and spaces. Hiding emotional pain and ecstasy in flights of stories, poems, even song lyrics, but I was only playing the bass at that time. A seventh-grade gift from my mom after I bombed out of piano. A Fender Precision and a Peavy TNT 100, the heaviest bass amp made. All from Ray Hennig’s Heart of Texas Music. And my lessons, also arranged by Ray, were with Reggie Witty, the bassist for Eric Fucking Johnson, if you even know who that is. But the music for me at that time was only playing along with Hush and Smoke on the Water.]

I celebrated my open despair. I allowed the molecules of disbelief and dead fathers to penetrate my bloodstream and infect my optimism bladder. (the one, just underneath the gallbladder)

One person in the universe, Dan, was able to contain my sadness, remind me of my children, and give me encouragement to counteract incoming threats.

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